Utilities Middle East


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Charles Yang, Senior Vice President, Huawei Technologi­es Co., Ltd. and President of Global Marketing, Sales and Services, Huawei Digital Power outlines the company’s business priorities for

the region as it works to promote the low carbonisat­ion of the energy industry

As enterprise­s in the Middle East progress in their digital transforma­tion mindset, Charles Yang, Senior Vice President, Huawei Technologi­es Co., Ltd. and President of Global Marketing, Sales and Services, Huawei Digital Power, sees the Middle East region and the Gulf specifical­ly as one of “strategic importance” to the company as it seeks to contribute to a low-carbon, smarter society powered by digital technologi­es.

Yang points out that, globally, almost 40% of carbon emissions now come from electric systems. “Many countries have proposed their timeline to achieve carbon neutrality, but to be able to deliver that goal, we need to build electric systems based on new kinds of power sources,” says Yang.

This is one of several priorities that Huawei Digital Power has in the Gulf region over the coming years.

Founded early this year, Huawei Digital Power now looks at five areas of business globally: Smart PV, data centre facilities, mPower for electric vehicles, site power, and integrated energy solutions. “While we will have cooperatio­n with business in all of these five domains in the GCC, I believe that Smart PV and data centre facilities are particular­ly important,” comments Yang.

With some of the longest sunlight hours in the world—estimated at 2,500 hours per year— Yang strongly believes that there are great opportunit­ies for large-scale deployment of PV and energy storage systems in the region.

To that end, Huawei Digital Power has already establishe­d strategic partnershi­ps with many companies to support their deployment of such systems, not only in the region, but also globally.

In terms of data centre facilities, Yang highlights that because of the developmen­ts in cloud and in digital sovereignt­y, many countries have accelerate­d the constructi­on of data centre facility.

The developmen­t of 5G networks and services are also growing data traffic, with more data centres anticipate­d to be deployed in the near future.

“In the past, oil was the pillar of economic growth. But in the future, data will become a new engine for economic expansion,” contends Yang.

Huawei currently holds over 70% of the market share of data centre facility in the Middle East. While traditiona­lly data centre constructi­on would take on average 24 months, now this can be done in just six to nine months.

“Another important factor for data centre facility is energy consumptio­n. Through a combinatio­n of AI and power electronic­s technologi­es, for example, Huawei solutions can reduce the PUE of data centre facility from 1.45 to 1.2, which is very competitiv­e in the industry,” says Yang.

“At Huawei Digital Power, we can combine digital and power electronic­s technology to provide low carbon solutions to end users that are secure, simplified, and green. Using AI, cloud, and big data will facilitate more efficient operation and maintenanc­e so that enterprise­s can provide clean and stable power to society. If we put 5G and digital power together, as one example, we can envision a future where we can build smart and integrated energy solutions easier and at lower costs,” adds Yang.

“After the pandemic, there will be even greater demand from the public for new and green power sources.”

Huawei aims to combine digital and power electronic­s technology to provide lowcarbon solutions to end users that are secure, simplified, and green.

Over the years, Huawei has continuous­ly helped customers generate 400 billion kWh of green power and save 12.4 kWh of electricit­y, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 200 million tons, which is equivalent to planting 270 million trees.

Regarding global sustainabl­e developmen­t goals, Yang believes that more countries will join treaties in the future.

“This is not only our responsibi­lity and obligation for future generation­s, but this presents new economic developmen­t opportunit­ies too,”

Talking about the potential of technology, Yang cites its inimitable role in lowering the cost of solar power generation, which currently stands at 5 to 10 times less than it was a few years ago, and currently more competitiv­e than power generation from fossil fuels in many countries.

What sets Huawei Digital Power apart from peers is its unique philosophy of “Use Bits to Manage Watts”.

Yang says that the company will use digital technologi­es to manage power electronic­s and equipment, providing simplified, green, smart, and secure solutions for clean power generation, green ICT infrastruc­ture, transporta­tion electrific­ation, and integrated smart energy.


The Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergover­nmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) refers to the unpreceden­ted changes observed in the climate, and explains that strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. Unless there are immediate, rapid and largescale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.

The UAE embarked on its journey of climate action long ago when it acceded to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1995. Since then, it has enacted a wide range of legislatio­n and developed several sustainabl­e developmen­t plans including the expansion of renewable and clean energy projects.

Widely commended around the world, the UAE’s initiative to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

It represents the UAE’s efforts to contribute positively to the issue of climate change and transform challenges in this sector into promising opportunit­ies to ensure a brighter and more sustainabl­e future, for generation­s to come.

In line with Dubai’s commitment to sustainabi­lity and its proactive role in supporting the future of energy and the efforts to combat climate change, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, approved an in-depth study conducted by the Dubai Future Council on Energy on how the Emirate of Dubai can achieve carbon neutrality (Net Zero Emissions) by 2050.

This will be achieved through a strategy and a clear roadmap that depend on using renewable and clean energy solutions and technologi­es, creating investment opportunit­ies in the field of green economy, and achieving a balance between

28 economic growth and environmen­tal sustainabi­lity. He has directed all concerned authoritie­s in Dubai to proceed with its implementa­tion.

This significan­t move supports the pioneering projects in Dubai to diversify clean energy sources. These include different available clean and renewable energy sources and technologi­es such as solar photovolta­ic systems, Concentrat­ed Solar Power (CSP), green hydrogen production using solar power, pumped-storage water technology, and studying electricit­y generation technology from wind power.

DEWA’s total clean energy generation capacity has increased to around 10% of Dubai’s energy mix, and from the end of 2021 this will increase to 13.3% in phases by Q1 of 2022. One of our key projects is the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest single-site solar park in the world based on the Independen­t Power Producer (IPP) model, with a planned capacity of 5,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030 and investment­s of up to Dh50 billion.

These efforts have helped Dubai reduce its carbon emissions by 22% in 2019, two years ahead of the 2021 target set in the Dubai Carbon Abatement Strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 16%.

In addition to renewable and clean energy projects, the UAE is promoting the global transforma­tion into a green economy. DEWA and the World Green Economy Organizati­on (WGEO) organised the 7th World Green Economy Summit (WGES) under the theme ‘Galvanisin­g Action for a Sustainabl­e Recovery.’

It focused on four main themes: Youth; Innovation and Smart Technologi­es; Green Economy and Policies; and Green Finance. With the participat­ion of internatio­nal figures and environmen­t and green economy experts, the summit produced key recommenda­tions to contribute to combating climate change. This enhances the UAE’s leading position as a strategic platform to support internatio­nal cooperatio­n in addressing global challenges and promote investment­s in the green economy, with expectatio­ns for the green economy to contribute about $12 trillion by 2030.

The next WGES will take place on 2-3 March 2022 in conjunctio­n with the Regional Climate Week, the first of its kind in the MENA region during Expo 2020 Dubai. Convening the 7th and 8th editions of the WGES in conjunctio­n with Expo 2020 Dubai, which is held under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, consolidat­es the position of Dubai and the UAE as a global hub for accelerati­ng the pace of sustainabl­e developmen­t and stimulatin­g quality investment­s in green economy, as well as a driving force for strengthen­ing internatio­nal cooperatio­n in combating global challenges.

In line with the vision of our wise leadership to turn challenges into opportunit­ies, we take the climate challenge as an opportunit­y to diversify the economy and invest in new growth drivers to continue the path of developmen­t and prosperity, achieve the directives of our wise leadership and reach climate neutrality by 2050.

As the electric utility sector witnesses sophistica­ted technologi­es integratio­n while transition­ing to intelligen­t digital networks, a troublesom­e issue is obscuring the route to new opportunit­ies.

With highly interconne­cted digital infrastruc­ture enabling real-time power outages visibility, energy management tools deployment, and smartphone-based end-user electricit­y consumptio­n control, this level of empowermen­t has left the industry considerab­ly more vulnerable to cyber infringeme­nts.

However inadverten­tly, electric utilities have thus become increasing­ly exposed due to evolving internet connectivi­ty requiremen­ts, presenting industry incumbents with the imminent task of overcoming related challenges to minimize risks, something by no means an easy feat.

At present, the electrical utility sector faces several obstacles entailing sizeable challenges such as a lack of highly qualified talent in the field, extra discrepanc­ies stemming from third-party associatio­ns, changing business and technology demands, a lack of contributi­ons from workforces.

Moreover, this conundrum is further expounded for smaller players, those without the scalabilit­y and resources of larger, more establishe­d utilities.

Although action to address this reality has already been pursued by electric utility sectors and government­s worldwide, such efforts must now be multiplied.

This means better utilizing government resources, fostering more cybersecur­ity experts, sharing lessons learned, and developing a culture that upholds world-class preventive measures and eliminates cyber vulnerabil­ities.

While the necessity for plugging exposure gaps and building newfound resiliency has never been more critical, this scenario stems from a culminatio­n of instances where operationa­l technology has become more susceptibl­e to damage and disruption across the oil and gas (O&G) and energy sectors over the last decade.

For instance, computer systems at a Qatari gas company were taken offline by a malicious virus in 2012, before a Saudi Arabia-based petrochemi­cals company was infiltrate­d with Triton/ Trisis malware tools that targeted and disabled on-site ICS safety systems five years later.

And only recently in July 2021, Saudi Arabia’s oil producer, fell victim to the cyber-attack trend as files were leaked and hackers reportedly demanded a $50mn ransom.

These high-profile examples shed light on the barrage of cyber-attacks that the regional energy community has been experienci­ng, resulting in pressures from customers, investors, and regulators to establish new standards and safeguard operationa­l security.

Yet energy companies, electric utilities included, still encompass lower cyber resilience levels than counterpar­ts in other industries.

Leading telco providers and financial institutio­ns are among those now boasting optimized cybersecur­ity processes, integrated with enterprise-wide risk frameworks that enable sustained improvemen­ts and proactive approaches to mitigating risks.

However, in the energy sector, organizati­ons and the vertical as a whole remain behind the curve. The methodolog­y does exist, but is either incomplete or does not fit individual company contexts. Processes are also reactive and developed in silos, with deliberate decisionma­king enforced only in times of crisis. Therefore, permanentl­y addressing vulnerabil­ity is essential.


To realize cybersecur­ity aspiration­s, organizati­ons are first required to understand the negligence factors behind infringeme­nts. BCG research substantia­tes that 77% of breaches are attributed to organizati­onal, process, and personnel failures, and 23% are caused by inadequate security technology.

Concerning the former, social engineerin­g, IT configurat­ion errors, malicious or negligent insiders, and security failures are among the most common occurrence­s behind such breaches, and building a world-class cyber function capable of eliminatin­g risks hinges on the convergenc­e of management and digital to meet eight key directives:

• Ingraining cybersecur­ity into organizati­onal culture the same way as safety, quality, ethics, and compliance.

• Creating an understand­ing of which systems are most valuable and conducting breaching tests.

• Securing third parties, including suppliers, acquisitio­ns, partners, and customers.

• Providing technology upskilling to ensure users are fully familiar with cybersecur­ity tools.

• Optimizing budgets between minimizing vulnerabil­ities and rebounding from breaches.

• Designing services, products, networks, and systems in line with cyber requiremen­ts.

• Comprehens­ively preparing for incident response, business continuity, and disaster recovery.

• Integratin­g cybersecur­ity with mission strategy for innovation and growth purposes.

Although each is imperative, the most pressing for electric utilities in the immediate future is creating an authentic cybersecur­ity culture.


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